Competition hits home help companies

Some 31% of home help and nursing services booked a loss in 2007, the year the sector was opened up to competition, the national statistics office CBS said on Wednesday.

In 2006, just 17% of home nursing firms booked a loss.
In order to compete with each other on price, companies cut their formal workforce by a total 10,000 jobs, or 5% of the workforce, the CBS said. In many cases, permanent contracts were replaced by workers on cheaper freelance contracts.
Since 2007, home nursing companies have become commercial operations which have to compete for local authority contracts. Before that, home helps and nursing services were paid for out of the AWBZ long-term care health fund.
Unions say both worker pay and services to clients have become worse since competition was introduced.

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